Photograph: Werner Schmidt

Monday, March 28, 2011

More Oxford-Cambridge Boat Races?

HTBS's Tim Koch has some final thoughts about this year's Boat Races. Tim writes:

The day following the 2011 Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race saw the Oxford-Cambridge 'Henley Boat Races' at (not surprisingly) Henley on Thames. The history of the event is here. There were four races:

Oxford University Womens Boat Club v Cambridge University Womens Boat Club (heavyweight women). First raced in 1927, this year Oxford won by one length in 6.24. The score is now Oxford 25 wins, Cambridge 40. Some moving pictures from the first race:


Osisis (Oxford) v Blondie (Cambridge) (heavyweight reserve women). First rowed in 1973, this year Cambridge won on a disqualification. The score is now Oxford 15, Cambridge 23.

Oxford University Womens Lightweight Rowing Club v Cambridge University Womens Boat Club Lightweights. First rowed in 1984, in 2011 Cambridge won by one and a half lengths in 6.43. The score is Oxford 11, Cambridge 16.

Oxford University Lightweight Rowing Club v Cambridge University Lightweight Rowing Club (men). First rowed in 1975, this year Oxford won by a canvas in 5.54. The score is Oxford 16, Cambridge 21.

The day before there were two slightly more publicised races on the Putney - Mortlake course:

Oxford University Boat Club v Cambridge University Boat Club (heavyweight men). First raced in 1829, this year Oxford won by four lengths in 17.32. The score is Oxford 76, Cambridge 80. Anyone with an internet provider address allocated to the UK can watch the BBC's two hour coverage of the race anytime on the BBC iPlayer internet TV and radio service until 1st April. [May not be available in all countries!]

Isis (Oxford) v Goldie (Cambridge) (heavyweight reserve men). First raced in 1965, Oxford won by six lengths in 17.38. The score is Oxford 18, Cambridge 29.

Finally, the day before the big one saw Oxford Veterans v Cambridge Veterans (mens heavyweight masters). First raced in 1995, Oxford won by four lengths in 7.24. The score is Oxford 6, Cambridge 10.

Thus the total 2011 score is Oxford 5, Cambridge 2.

Expressing a personal view, I am surprised that there is not more of a movement to have the Isis / Goldie event on Boat Race Day replaced with the heavyweight women's race currently held at Henley. Why see the second best men when we could see the best women? The reserve men's race cannot even claim that it is an ancient tradition - it only started in 1965. At the time, having the spare men race in preference to the best women would have made sense as female rowing was simply not good enough. Some evidence is of this is here.

Nowadays this is clearly not the case and it seems that a great chance to show the world a large part (half?) of our sport is wasted. Do the sponsors not realise the opportunity for even greater exposure that they are missing? They could bring pressure on the organisers to change or, more subtly, offer financial incentives. This would also have the effect of putting much needed money into Oxbridge women's rowing. The people in charge of the event clearly have their price as witnessed by their agreeing to call it the 'Xchanging Boat Race' and putting advertising on the racing kit.

I think that this is enough Oxford-Cambridge rowing for a while on HTBS.

Thank you Tim for excellent coverage of this year's Boat Races!

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